a favorite day was pompeii
i dread being asked what i do for a living. my answer cannot be a one word or even a one sentence explanation like teacher, doctor, lawyer, or student. i don’t like trying to explain it because if you do not know about cloud and software implementation and so on – you will look at me with a glazed over expression and nod politely. sometimes i like to make up answers. ninja is probably my favorite response; super model is my second favorite. both obvious lies, but i prefer a laugh instead of the confused haze.
my second least favorite question is “what is your favorite [insert anything here]." i don’t have a favorite band, song, movie, color, food, season, animal or vacation place. i mean why pick just one answer when there are so many great options. don’t get me wrong, I definitely have preferences and strong likes - just not favorites.
so what happens when i return? obviously everyone asks me what my favorite sight was or what the best thing about the trip was. here is where you see me freeze up and go deer in the headlights. i probably should have thought about this on the 11 hour plan ride back. it probably would have taken me that long and then I probably would change it each time i thought about it. i simply cannot peg a favorite on my italy trip, although gelato and pasta are pretty high up on the list.
i can say that one of my favorite days was pompeii.
since pompeii is near naples (about 2-3 hours south of rome), i signed up to tackle this with a tour group since i was not interested in renting a car or trying to coordinate with train schedules. when was looking into tour options most included city tours of naples and pompeii. i almost landed on those trips until i found one that toured pompeii, included a pizza lunch in naples, and then hiking mount vesuvius. and that was all she wrote – i had to hike to the top of this volcano.
now, this is interesting if you know me – i dislike heights (more like an opportunity for a massive/deadly fall), i am not extremely active or fit, and i don’t particularly enjoy hiking mountains as i found out in peru. but, i had to do this. there is something about a unique experience like hiking one of the most violent volcanoes that overrules all of my reasons not to hike. end of discussion. i signed up as there was no other trip as cool as this one.
let’s jump past the bus trip right back to 79AD in pompeii. one of the same sensations happens to you in pompeii as in Rome – the wonder of age and history. to walk on the same roads, enter through the same doorways, view the same murals as people did here two millennium ago is different than anything i have experienced state-side. we are a country that just doesn’t have that history – maybe that is why i treasured this experience so much.
pompeii is so well preserved it makes imagining life back then easy and realistic. what did i notice? they were really short – the average height of a woman would have been barely five feet tall. i would have been a whole foot taller than almost every woman there!
other fun facts that stuck with me…
they had a ‘red light’ district. one of the houses that i got to walk through still had paintings of services above the door! the beds were made of stone and really tiny (back to the height thing).
they had some crude plumbing – using lead pipes. so if vesuvius didn’t take them out, i bet their water probably would have!
from most vantage points, you can see vesuvius in the background. it is beautiful now and probably was then too – right up until it blew its top. i didn’t know it was still active. i didn’t know scientists predict that it erupts approximately every 2,000 years. i got pretty excited with this news. last explosion = 79 AD. current date = 2014 AD. a few decades either way – and we may be alive when it erupts again. please do not read that as i am excited about the after-effects or potential disaster it will be – but there is just something magnificent about nature that powerful. i have never been on an active volcano – so i had to hike to the top.
i will say that we got bused most of the way. you have to make the last and steepest climb on foot. once i finally got to the top (i am skipping the pep talk i had to give myself to hike up), i looked around. honestly, from on top – it is just the top of a mountain with a crater instead of a peak. then you see the steam coming from within the crater. then you turn around and look at the bay of naples. it is something that i cannot describe in words.
once i started the journey down, all i could think about was, “man, i am going to have to hike this mountain again” as all i wanted to do was to bring my closest family and friends to experience what i had experienced that day – a city instantly buried and preserved and a volcano that threatens to do it again!
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over my shoulder is by a covington, georgia native who graduated from presbyterian college and ga state with a bs and ms in business economics. she's a true southern lady naming biscuits as her favorite food. she has traveled to machu picchu where she decided she wanted to see all 7 wonders. her favorite US places are sonoma, california, and alaska. next on her agenda is to make it to new zealand, australia and south america . . . or wherever she finds a wonder.